ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algeria is celebrating 60 years of independence from France on Tuesday with nationwide ceremonies, a pardon of 14,000 prisoners and its first military parade in years.
The events mark the country’s official declaration of independence on July 5, 1962, after a brutal seven-year war which ended 132 years of colonial rule. The war, which killed at least 1.5 million people, remains a point of tension in relations between Algeria and France.
“A day of glory for a new era” is the official slogan of the celebration, which includes concerts, sports events, lectures and photo exhibits retracing the horrors of the war.
City workers hung Algerian flags and portraits of the war’s heroes, and loudspeakers in public squares are broadcasting patriotic songs.
Former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika abandoned holding military parades, but his successor, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, revived the tradition for this year’s anniversary.
The military show of force is taking place amid growing tensions between Algeria and Morocco over the disputed Western Sahara region.
Tebboune is expected to address consultations with political leaders he’s been holding in recent months. Opposition figures and those involved in 2019 pro-democracy protests that helped overthrow Bouteflika were not invited to the consultations.
The president signed decrees Monday announcing pardons for thousands of prisoners. It orders inmates suffering medical problems to be released or have their sentences commuted.
It was not immediately clear whether political prisoners, including those involved in the Hirak protest movement, would be among the people freed.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Hamas and the presidents of Tunisia, Niger, Congo and Ethiopia were expected to take part in Tuesday’s anniversary events.